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Big Bend National Park Invites Comments on Wilderness and Backcountry Management

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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I'm buying stock in bear canister companies.

                                                                            :s_laugh:

Ouch. It's funny because it's true.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline elhombre

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After painfully reading the 1995 document, it is clear that they don't really care what it says.  They don't follow their own document much of the time.  Without them telling people what they think needs to be changed and why, it is very difficult to address any discussion they are willing to have. My guess this is simply a formality, and the elitist overlords will do what ever their bigger than the rest of the world's brain's decide is prudent. They already moved away from the computerized permit system it stated they were going to implement.  They don't give permits out at all the visitor centers.  They don't keep the visitor centers open as prescribed.  They haven't put in the 3 Rosillos campsites in the past 23 years.  There isn't a visitor center out at the Mesa de Anguila.  on, and on, and on....

Surprisingly, it does talk about the problem with poop at campsites.  I guess they still are working out the plan on that one. 

It also says they are suppose to close the Chisos for the "endangered" falcon.  Not endangered anymore.   It also says they are suppose to evaluate the nesting every year and adjust the closure.  I guess the falcons have been there every year for a while now.

The one thing I did notice is the limits on permitted people for each backcountry zone is stated in there.  What are the chances they change these up "to protect the resource".

As for the rumor that the spring water will become off limits, that would sure solve the problem with the back country permit system....

It states one of the 3 goals of the entire plan is " To serve as a forum which interested organizations, the public, and other agencies may review and provide comment upon proposed management actions"  Where is the list of proposed management actions????     

My comment submitted: Your own plan states as one of the 3 goals for the document is "To serve as a forum which interested organizations, the public, and other agencies may review and provide comment upon proposed management actions"

Where are the proposed management actions y'all are talking about changing?  Your own plan says we, the public can review it.  Are you changing the permit system?  Are you changing the zone designation letters?  What actions?

Your exclusion of the proposed management actions is nothing short of breaking your own administrative law.

It would be prudent for y'all to start the process over, publish the proposed changes to the plan, then allow people comment.  That is the spirit and intention of the review process.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 09:39:43 PM by elhombre »
For 2 years the Fake News Media, Obama's FBI, CIA & DOJ, and Swamp dwelling Politicians COLLUDED, Illegally Spied,and LIED to America about POTUS in order to overturn an election

All the while demanding censorship and removal of opposition Conservative "hate speech" voices.  Globalists Hate Freedom

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Offline Casa Grande

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Alright.  I'll go on record and say THE STAFF AT BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK DON'T GIVE ONE LITTLE DAMN ABOUT WHAT ANYONE OUTSIDE PANTHER JUNCTION THINKS ABOUT THEIR POLICIES. The least of which are the fine folks here  at Big Bend Chat.   But,  go on and keep thinking you've got something to say.  They'll bob they're funny  hats up and down, give you a "go to hell" smile, a handshake,  and do none of it.  Been there,  done that.  Be real folks. 

They don't want you there,  why the hell would they care about what you have to say?

Hombre is right,  this is merely a formality. 


Sent from my Note 8 using Big Bend Chat mobile app

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Offline presidio

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While looking for the actual Backcountry Closure press release that Jim previously alerted us to I ran across this from today also.

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Date: May 1, 2018
Contact: Nadine Youssef-Hatch, 432-477-1151
Big Bend National Park is seeking input to update the 1995 Backcountry Management Plan.  This document directs park management on wilderness and backcountry use topics, including backpacking, primitive car camping, backcountry use limits, and other considerations. 
 

Here is a link to the project page with the 1995 management plan.  Unfortunately other than the 23 year old plan there is no information as to what they are thinking.  This makes me very uncomfortable as to what they might come up with.  Anyone going to be in the area for either of the planned public meetings?  We only have 6 weeks to give input.

Would love to attend, but cannot. However, if anyone does, please take them to task about their repeated usage of the word 'wilderness.'

This is NO wilderness in Big Bend, despite how fervently they wish for it, and they need to stop misleading the public about this item.
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline presidio

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Haven't read through all of the 1995 plan but I already see this is our opportunity to push for El Campo to come back or another computerized system (page 19, #2).  My other thoughts are to push back on bear cans in the lower desert and any kind of restrictions on using natural water sources. 

Good luck with that. This process certainly is not about rolling back restrictions and requirements; only adding more.
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline presidio

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Alright.  I'll go on record and say THE STAFF AT BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK DON'T GIVE ONE LITTLE DAMN ABOUT WHAT ANYONE OUTSIDE PANTHER JUNCTION THINKS ABOUT THEIR POLICIES. The least of which are the fine folks here  at Big Bend Chat.   But,  go on and keep thinking you've got something to say.  They'll bob they're funny  hats up and down, give you a "go to hell" smile, a handshake,  and do none of it.  Been there,  done that.  Be real folks. 

They don't want you there,  why the hell would they care about what you have to say?

Hombre is right,  this is merely a formality. 

Absolutely true in all respects.
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline mule ears

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The comment period closes tomorrow night the 18th.  Here is the comment link again if you haven't already given them your 2 cents.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline Peter O

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Thanks for the reminder Mule Ears!  I had seen your earlier post but put off submitting comments until I "had a little more time"--famous last words.  I am attaching a copy of my comments urging the Park not to require backpackers to carry bear-resistant containers or, if they do, to allow the use of IGBC-approved Ursack bags.  Probably won't help, but adding my two cents made me feel a bit better.

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Offline mule ears

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Peter thanks for the thorough and well stated comments.  I sent similar thoughts but not as extensive as yours.  I also hit on the permit system and use of backcountry water sources.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Being the consummate procrastinator, I just submitted my final comments. Our household has been buried under visiting relatives for the last week until this morning, but I fought and scrounged a few moments to bang out this:

"1. My bona fides. I understand the degree to which park visitation is increasing. I have personally experienced the phenomenal increase during twenty-three years of visiting the park, primarily as a backpacker and floater. However, my experience is that, while the frontcountry visitation has ballooned to truly amazing levels (particularly at peak times), the backcountry. exclusive of areas in close proximity to parking (e.g., the Chimneys, or Mule Ears spring, or perhaps Ernst Tinaja) are not suffering from overly-high levels of visitation. I have taken several multi-day backpacks across the remoter areas of the park (e.g., the Deadhorse Mountains or the Sierra Quemada or the Mesa de Anguila) without encountering a single person during trips up to 14 days long. Last winter I floated the entire Rio Grande within the park and, outside of the heavily-trafficked Santa Elena leg, I only encountered one other party of floaters, which passed quickly by my camp early one evening. All of this is to say that, while visitation to the park has undeniably increased, my personal experience is that the deep backcountry is still relatively unpeopled. I've seen almost zero trash while in the remoter parts of the backcountry, and what little I've seen has been almost (but not quite) exclusively historical. Other than during several trips to areas accessible from backcountry roadsites, or on the OML, or during floats of the Rio Grande, I have encountered no fire rings, no previously-cleared campsites, and seen no human disturbances of backcountry water sources (the few disturbances I've found in the deep backcountry were made by various wildlife). That is not to say that these things don't occur in the deep backcountry, but that they are sufficiently rare that I have not encountered them to any significant degree in many, many deep backcountry trips. So, it is within the context of these experiences that I make the following comments.

2. Backcountry and DEEP backcountry. I strongly object to any prohibitions on the use of deep backcountry water sources by backpackers. Such prohibitions will effectively eliminate real exploration, appreciation, and enjoyment of the deep backcountry. Four gallons (i.e. four careful days) is effectively the limit that one person can carry on their back in addition to a normal backpacking kit. I've done it before and that kind of load is exceedingly painful and difficult. Confining backpackers to the use of cached water in the deep backcountry is problematic, because the deep backcountry is, by definition, the DEEP backcountry. Even if one had at their disposal a vehicle appropriate to the few roads that provide access, and the time to make the trips necessary to plant the caches, there aren't enough primitive roads in the park to make caching a reasonable alternative to natural water sources. Whole sections of the park would effectively become beyond the reach of all but the most herculean backpackers. I'm sure you've noticed my recurring use of the term DEEP backcountry. I use it because I recognize that some areas of the backcountry (e.g., Dodson Spring, Fresno Creek, Mule Ears Spring, Cattail Falls, Pine Canyon Falls, and to a much lesser extent, Ernst Tinaja) are suffering (in many and various ways) from over-visitation and all the attendant damage. I am not opposed to judicious restrictions being put on these relatively accessible areas. But I am opposed to use restrictions being put on any water sources that are located more deeply in the backcountry UNLESS real, serious, and lasting damage can be documented. I simply do not believe, nor have I seen, any evidence that deep backcountry human users are negatively impacting these water sources. To my mind, there is no demonstrable problem that justifies such an extreme change in policy, particularly a change that would so hugely impact access to the deep backcountry. Even in places that ARE being impacted, such as Mule Ears Spring, the problem as I see it, is not water draw-downs, but trash and disrespect by day-users, not backpackers. In my experience, the backcountry is clean and well-preserved in direct proportion to its distance from a trailhead with vehicle parking. I don't know a single backpacker that hikes days into the wilderness to trash it. None of us like finding human sign, therefore none of us leave it.

3. Bears. I'm a retired naturalist and conservation ornithologist, which is to say that bears are not my specialty, but neither am I ignorant of them. I am fully supportive of all efforts to restore the Big Bend population of Black Bear, and of minimizing any and all negative encounters between the bears and humans. I've had a number of bear-human encounters while in the Chisos Mountains (none that I would consider negative), but have had zero encounters outside of the Chisos. That is not to say that bears aren't found outside the Chisos. I've encountered scat in the Deadhorse, in the Sierra Quemada, in the west of the park near Pena Spring, and all along the Rio Grande. That said, I'm not aware of any negative bear-human encounters outside of the Chisos Mountains. To my mind, management of bear-human encounters should be focused on the Chisos and its foothills. Policy should be based on data. And I'm fairly sure the data demonstrates that the Chisos and its foothills are the only places that warrant the mandated usage of bear-proof storage of food and aromatics by backpackers. I'm always happy to find a bear-box anywhere in the park, and I can certainly see the need for some manner of bear-proof containers in the Chisos, and with a bit of stretch, the need for the same along the lower parts of the OML. But outside the Chisos and the OML, a requirement for bear-proof backpacking containers seems unjustified by the data, and therefore antithetical to the mission of the park.

4. Bear-proof containers. I own and have used both BearVaults and Ursacks all across the western United States during extensive multi-day backpacking trips. Full disclosure: not one has ever been assaulted by a bear. But, the Ursacks have been tested and approved by both the Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group and the Interagency  Grizzly Bear Committee. If land and wildlife managers in western areas with much greater populations of bears and many more bear-human interactions have approved Ursacks, then surely they should be good enough for Big Bend, especially in deep backcountry areas with no recorded negative bear-human interactions. Ursacks, even when not suspended from trees, are extremely effective at protecting items from bears and vastly more convenient in a backpack than are the heavy, bulky, hard-sided BearVaults. I love BearVaults for caches, but much prefer Ursacks for carrying items in my backpack. That said, my strong preference is for NO bearproof containers being required in the DEEP backcountry until justified by data on bear-human interactions in those areas.

5. Other equipment. I have no problem with potential backpackers or floaters being required to demonstrate their ownership or expertise with any required piece of equipment in their kit as a prerequisite to receiving their permit. In fact, I encourage it.

6. Permitting process. Over twenty-plus years, I have seen the permitting process transition from paper systems maintained by phone, to online systems with instant updates (El Campo). My two cents is that the El Campo system, while occasionally flawed, is worth keeping and improving. Several times over the decades, I arrived at a campsite only to find it cross-booked. Not once during the El Campo years did that happen to me. Occasionally a glitch in El Campo would keep a permitting ranger from correctly filling out my permit, but that was definitely an exception rather than the rule. I also enjoyed and benefitted from the archival functionality of the El Campo: being able to check historical use trends in order to plan my own future trips. Similar online systems at many other popular NPS sites work very well. I strongly encourage BiBe staff to reinstate El Campo and build upon its strengths while correcting its very few weaknesses.

7. Permitting locations. More than once, I have secured a first permit at one visitor center, completed it upon arriving at another visitor center, and then secured a second permit to continue my trip further. I strongly encourage BiBe to continue the practice of issuing permits at ALL BiBe visitor centers. In fact, I would love to see backpacking permits, especially for Mesa de Anguila, also issued at the BBRSP visitors center in cooperation with TPWD, but of course that would be much easier if El Campo was reinstated.

Thank you for your consideration. I have the utmost respect for BiBe staff, having had many valued interactions over the last twenty-three years with Ro Wauer, Mark Flippo, Marco Paredes, Raymond Skiles, Tom Alex, Michael Ryan, Jeanette Jurado, David Elkowitz, Bob Smith, and others. Best of luck with the revised policies. Please be judicious and fair; don't make decisions that make the park prohibitively difficult or inaccessible to those of us that love, respect, and support it."
« Last Edit: June 18, 2018, 06:18:52 PM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

 


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